What I Believe

What I Believe Book Cover What I Believe
Tariq Ramadan
Social Science
Oxford University Press, USA

Tariq Ramadan is very much a public figure, named one of Time magazine's most important innovators of the twenty-first century. He is among the leading Islamic thinkers in the West, with a large following around the world. But he has also been a lightning rod for controversy. Indeed, in 2004, Ramadan was prevented from entering the U.S. by the Bush administration and despite two appeals, supported by organizations like the American Academy of Religion and the ACLU, he was barred from the country until spring of 2010, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally lifted the ban.In What I Believe, Ramadan attempts to set the record straight, laying out the basic ideas he stands for in clear and accessible prose. He describes the book as a work of clarification, directed at ordinary citizens, politicians, journalists, and others who are curious (or skeptical) about his positions. Aware that that he is dealing with emotional issues, Ramadan tries to get past the barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding to speak directly, from the heart, to his Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike. In particular, he calls on Western Muslims to escape the mental, social, cultural, and religious ghettos they have created for themselves and become full partners in the democratic societies in which they live. At the same time, he calls for the rest of us to recognize our Muslim neighbors as citizens with rights and responsibilities the same as ours. His vision is of a future in which a shared and confident pluralism becomes a reality at last.

Actually I started to know Tariq Ramadan since he visited UIAM last year and became eager to having one of his writing. After searching through the reviews on the Net, I decided to begin with “What I Believe“.

Some of us may find problem in his definition of secularism and syariah. He is quite lenient when defining secularism, where I suspect cause criticism towards him from Islamic world itself.

Contrary to majority of Muslim believe, he proposed that syariah is ‘The Way’ not ‘The Law’. Since my copy is not with me when I write this review, I choose not to elaborate on this matter as it can cause further misunderstandings and fitnah towards the author.

However, I agree to him on the matter that some basic tools to understand the source of Islam and its jurispudence must be taught to the public. He mentions one, which is Usul Fiqh that helps us to understand how a fatwa is derived based on sources such as Al-Quran and As-Sunnah.

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Berkenalan dengan Sejarawan: Prof. Ahmat Adam

27 Mac 2012
Beberapa hari menjelang acara Spring Moment with IluvIslam UK-Eire (S.M.I.L.E) Sabtu ini. Satu salinan makalah saya terima, sesuai dengan peranan moderator bagi sesi Malaysia dan Islam: Ini Sejarah Kita.

“Siapa Prof. Ahmat Adam ini?” monolog naïf seorang pelajar tahun satu.

Saat itu komuniti Malaysia di United Kingdom bertuah menerima kehadiran Dr. Asri Zainal Abidin  yang bercuti sabatikal di Oxford. Pelbagai program diatur dan dipromosi atas nama beliau sebagai penarik pengunjung.

Daripada carian Internet saya menjumpai beberapa maklumat mengenai Prof. Ahmat Adam. Beliau ialah seorang profesor sejarah, bermula di UKM kemudian berpindah ke UMS sebelum bersara dan dikurniakan gelar Prof. Emeritus.  Beliau bersama Dr. Asri dan Ustaz Marwazi (Timbalan Mufti Kedah) merupakan felo pelawat di Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, yang turut dianggotai oleh Dr. Afifi Al-Akiti.

31 Mac 2012
Berbekal maklumat yang sangat asas ini, saya tersilap ketika memperkenalkan beliau kepada hadirin. Gugup mungkin, kerana bas kami dari Nottingham tiba agak lewat di Warwick padahal saya perlu mengendalikan sesi pertama. Langsung sahaja saya ditegur sepintas lalu ketika sharahannya, dan beliau menyampaikan sharahannya tepat mengikuti waktu yang ditetapkan penganjur.

Saya kagum, walaupun tajuk yang diperkatakan ialah topik yang sulit.

Sejarah, yang biasa membuatkan kita tidur, menjadi menarik dengan sharahan beliau. Ada beberapa fakta misalnya yang terkandung dalam Sejarah Melayu atau Sulalatus Salatin, beliau bentangkan dan mencabar kami untuk menilainya dari perspektif berbeza. Peristiwa pertanyaan persoalan agama oleh Sultan Melaka ke Pasai membuatkan kami berfikir bagaimanakah sebenarnya perkembangan ilmu pada zaman kesultananan Melaka itu.

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Louisa May Alcott’s Blood And Thunder Tales

Written by Xuelin Yeong

Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, is famous for her ‘sentimental’ stories, or what she calls ‘moral pap’ for the younger readers. Most of her stories are preachy; that is, they talk about various virtues, the goodness of simplicity, modesty, frugality—well, you get the idea. “Rose in Bloom” features a rich and beautiful heiress, who is kind and generous despite her wealth; “Kitty’s Class Day” is about a young girl who insists in imitating other girls and dressing up in ridiculous fashions that was unsuitable for her. She comes to grief when a young gentleman accidentally stepped on her long dress, ruining it and humiliating her in front of public.

Initially I enjoyed reading such stories very much, for it gave me a glimpse into Victorian life, including the way they dressed and the moral ideals they upheld; but at one point all the ‘moral talk’ became too much to bear, and I started to wonder if Alcott only wrote such stories, and nothing else.

Louisa May Alcott

Then, scrolling through my book list in my e-book reader, I came across an interesting title –Behind the Mask/A Woman’s Power. I thought that it is a book about feminism—but no, it wasn’t. It turned out that I have stumbled upon one of Alcott’s ‘blood and thunder tales’, which, in other words, are sensational stories (by the standards of those days, of course). These stories feature deceit, twisted love and obsession, manipulation, and even murder.

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